Mar 16, 2021brangwinn rated this title 5 out of 5 stars
One of the most profound statements in Layla AlAmmar’s second novel is “the thing is, when you can’t speak, people assume you can’t hear either.” Told in first person, a young mute woman has left her family and war-torn Aleppo, Syria to become one of the many refugees looking for a safe place to live. Ending up in an unnamed British city, she is living alone and writing The Voiceless column for an e-magazine. We never learn whether her mutism is by choice or because of the physical and mental hardships she has had to overcome to get to Britain. Her world is small. She lives in “West Tower, fourth floor, flat three.” Much of her life is spent watching her neighbors. In bits and pieces, the reader comes to know the narrator as an educated woman, studying literature at a Damascus university only to flee to survive. We learn the cost of having to leave her family, the sexual and physical abuse she suffered as an asylum seeker and what it is like to be one of the voiceless refugees living in a place where even surrounded by people, you live in solitude with your own thoughts.